Luke 1:80 And the child grew and became strong in spirit; and he lived in the desert until he appeared publicly to Israel.
I’ve mostly skipped over this verse when I’ve come to this passage before, though I couldn’t count how many times that’s been. I don’t know that I’ve ever underlined it. However, it grabbed my attention just now. Somehow I get the image of what today we would call a “strong-willed child.” Books have been written about the difficulty of parenting such children! It’s entirely possible that John lived in the desert because he didn’t really get along with anybody very well. We often forget that God uses imperfect vessels to do His work. We tend to put those who obviously have an anointing up on pedestals, and all too often they fall off! That’s not what God intends at all. The other side of that is that we exclude ourselves from being used by God because of our awareness of our own imperfections. That is equally outside of His plan. As it says in Psalm 103:14, God “knows how we are formed, He remembers that we are dust.” We aren’t to excuse our failures, but neither should we think that God is in the least surprised by them. He loves us anyway, and He wants to use us anyway. As that most familiar of all Scriptures (John 3:16) tells us, He loves us so much He sent His Son to die in our place, so that we might be brought into His family as children and heirs. You don’t throw out a child because they’re slow to be potty trained! God knew the risks He was taking when He gave us free will, but He also knew He didn’t want robots, or even pets, but true children with the potential of reflecting His character. We are not to write anyone off, including ourselves, because of flaws or failures, but rather look to God who is more than able to cleanse and use imperfect vessels.
The longer I live the better I understand this. Young people can at times be very unforgiving, of themselves or of others. I believe this is actually a major motivator of suicide. I am to encourage every believer to “be holy, as He is holy,” (1 Peter 1:15-16) but at the same time help them deal with this very imperfect world we live in. When God created it, it was very good, (Genesis 1:31) but sin has corrupted it, and we live with the consequences. The love and grace of God, perfectly expressed in the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ, are the answer to sin and its consequences. That is the message I am to communicate as effectively as possible to as many as possible, even though I and they are imperfect. I must not let imperfections, in me or in anyone else, blind me to the love and grace of God.
Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for those with whom I’m working right now. There is so much I want to communicate to them, but I can’t do it all at once! I really understand what Jesus said in John 16:12 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear.” Give me patience, love, and wisdom to share all I should when they are ready to receive it, so that they may be led out of they lying traps of the devil into the freedom of Your Spirit, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!